Daily Update #265

Today’s Reading: Ecclesiastes 7:7-13

7 Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart. 8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. 9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. 10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these? ”For it is not wise to ask such questions.

11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun.

12 Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it. 13 Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?

The Teacher in today’s reading from Ecclesiastes is not providing theoretical musings about the benefits of God’s wisdom. In a very practical and typically blunt way he is pointing out four very real obstacles to us acquiring God-given wisdom. They are:

1. corruption (v7): too often, we can find ourselves joining in with the media’s use of such words as ‘sleaze’, scandal’ and ‘witch-hunt’ about the powers that be and the powers that would like to be. The Teacher is saying to us ‘look to yourself first and avoid any lack of honesty and integrity. Take care not to be a fool yourself’.

2.impatience (v8): it is better to pause, reflect and even to remain quiet, until 

   things are certain. Don’t rush into hasty and careless judgements or conclusions.

3.bitterness and anger (v9): these emotions too often lead us astray and cause

   lasting hurt to ourselves as well as to others. “If tolerated, resentment makes

   its home in the personality” warns Michael A Eaton in The New Bible Commentary.

4.nostalgia (v10):  this is an unexpected warning but a fair one to historians like me!   

  We are not to look back with rose-tinted spectacles to perceived better times – which

  may not have been so anyway. Individual Christians, and the Church, are to live

  in the present and to look to the future, not to wallow sentimentally in past glories.

Verses 11 and 12 remind us that all wisdom comes from God and is greatly needed by His people. Wisdom is protective like a shelter and it acts as a preservative. So how can we enjoy divine wisdom in our daily lives? Well, I would suggest that we head into James 3:13-18 for some more very practical advice for living wisely. Then we can  look at one life-changing verse in James chapter 1 which we can all act on here and now: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he (or she) should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him (or her)” (1:5). This is not just good advice but a wonderful promise. Where our discernment and understanding fall short, God will supply all the wisdom we need to help us through the confusions, difficulties and uncertainties of this life. Let’s take Him up on His word now…. 

Today’s Prayer: We thank you Father for these wise words in Ecclesiastes which help us to face up to the big questions of life. Thank you also that whilst our wisdom so often falls short and we don’t know what to do and how to do it, we can come to you and ask in faith for your wisdom. Please give us each day your patience, discernment, insight and love. May we show them in the way we treat each other and everyone we know. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.       (Mike W)